Electric ant

Alert

Have you seen Electric ant?

Be on the lookout for Electric ant and report them to Biosecurity Queensland. Early detection and reporting are the key elements in eradicating Electric ant.

Call us on 13 25 23.

Native to Central and South America, electric ants are tiny, golden-brown insects. Electric ants prey on and compete with other insects and can displace large numbers of native ants. They can also inflict painful stings on wild and domestic animals and on humans.

First detected in Cairns in 2006, electric ants are one of the world's most invasive pests. They affect human health and lifestyle, can blind pets, damage the environment, and have the potential to severely affect agricultural industries.

Electric ants are a category 1 restricted pest under the Biosecurity Act 2014. Report electric ants online or call Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Scientific name

Wasmannia auropunctata

Similar species

Description

  • Tiny social ant about 1.5mm long.
  • Body is golden-brown.
  • Usually slow-moving.
  • Form distinct foraging lines.

Habitat

  • Establish colonies anywhere rather than having visible nests.
  • Found under stones, blocks, sleepers, logs and in garden waste, leaf litter, soil, trees, around swimming pools, watercourses.
  • Also found in wall cavities, clothing, bedding, garden equipment, camping gear.
  • Found in wet and dry conditions.
  • Can survive in water, may sting you in your swimming pool.

Distribution in Queensland

Life cycle

  • Queens live for approximately 12 months and lay up to 70 eggs a day.
  • Eggs are incubated for 8-10 days.
  • Larvae develop for 14-16 days.
  • Nymphal stage lasts 13-14 days.
  • Adult workers live for more than 40 days.
  • Males live for several weeks.

Impacts

Environmental

  • Can out-compete other ant species and cause declines in numbers of invertebrates and small vertebrates.
  • Thought to have reduced reptile populations in New Caledonia and tortoise populations in Galapagos Archipelago, where ants eat hatchlings and attack eyes and cloacae of adult tortoises.

Economic

  • Farm scale insects for honeydew, creating agricultural nuisance.
  • Repeatedly sting farm workers, reducing worker output and leading to loss of workers.

Social

  • Inflict painful stings on humans that cause painful, itchy, persistent pimples and, occasionally, severe allergic reactions.
  • May sting, and possibly blind, domestic pets.
  • Dense infestations may leave backyards or pools unusable.
  • May invade insides of houses.

Control

Legal requirements

  • Electric ants are a category 1 restricted pest under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • Electric ant biosecurity zones are in place in areas of Queensland to restrict the movement of materials that could spread electric ants.
  • Under the Biosecurity Act 2014 individuals and organisations whose activities involve the movement or storage or electric ant carriers will have a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take all reasonable steps to ensure they do not spread electric ants.
  • When moving electric ant carriers from a property in a biosecurity zone, you must comply with the relevant movement controls. You must hold a biosecurity instrument permit, which allows you to move an electric ant carrier:
    • between properties within a biosecurity zone
    • from a property within a biosecurity zone to a property outside of a biosecurity zone.
  • A permit is not required if the electric ant carrier is moved only to approved waste facilities.

More information

Contact us

Call your local government office, or Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Last updated
06 July 2016